On 9th November, I woke up to a text from my boyfriend: “Trump has won.”
It still hasn’t quite sunk in. I spent most of yesterday reeling, stunned, occasionally losing myself in something else, only for the horror to come crashing back. President Donald Trump. The poison cherry on top of the shit sundae that has been 2016.
I spent yesterday reeling, but I spent today thinking What can I do?, because as someone with a fairly large amount of privilege, I have a choice here. As a woman and a person with various chronic and mental illnesses, the swing to the far right that has only been accelerated by Trump’s victory will hurt me, but not as much and not as quickly as it will hurt people who aren’t white, cis, straight, middle-class and able-bodied. I can hunker down, stay quiet and hope to dodge the shrapnel, or I can stand up, shout and do what’s right.
I refuse to do the former. Here are some ways I’m going to try to do the latter. All constructive thoughts and ideas on how to do it better will be very much appreciated.
Listen, and amplify people’s voices
Marginalised people are already underrepresented in media, overlooked, shouted down at every turn. I can’t see that getting any better under the current circumstances. So, I will signal-boost the people who are bearing the brunt of the far-right’s rise as much as I can – we need to listen to trans people, LGB people, disabled people, and POC (especially WOC, especially black women) as much as possible. Here are some brilliant articles that have been written so far, and I’ll be adding more as I find them:
And for God’s sake, listen to the same groups of people I mentioned above. Listen, digest their words quietly, and don’t get defensive and pissy and not all white people/straight people/men. Because that helps no-one and deflects from the real issue, which is that while you, fellow privileged person, may not agree with the current climate, it still won’t harm you in the way it does marginalised people. Listen to them and believe what they’re telling you.
If you’ve listened properly to marginalised people, you will have learned of ways to help without throwing your privilege around and making it all about you. Support organisations led by people bearing the brunt of the racism, sexism, disablism, LGBT-antagonism, and do it in the way that these people ask. Give your time and money and skills if you can, and if you can’t, signal-boost and raise awareness. I’ll be taking recommendations of organisations and groups to support and listing them here.
Oppose bigotry, big and small
I am incredibly ashamed to admit that, on many occasions, I’ve let bigotry slide – because it’s just one small comment, because it’s just a silly joke, because, because, because. Deep down, I know that the real ‘because’ on all those occasions was because I get very uncomfortable about conflict and chickened out of doing the right thing. I’m not going to do that any more. From the smallest comment to the most violent attack, we cannot let anything slide, because that is how bigotry and prejudice becomes normalised. Our comfort is not, and never has been, more important than another person’s safety – it’s just been perceived and treated as such.
I am terrified as to what the next few years will bring. But I know that if people who are able to oppose it refuse to do so, it will be so much worse than the alternative. There are many people who are going to be putting all their strength into just surviving – those of us who don’t have to do that need to step up and give our support to those who do, without expecting a cookie or a pat on the head, because we shouldn’t need that in order to fight for other human beings to be treated as such.